IMF approves $2.77bn emergency virus loan for Egypt

IMF approves $2.77bn emergency virus loan for Egypt
A worker stands on a building under construction in the New Administrative Capital (NAC), east of Cairo, amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19, Egypt, May 6, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 May 2020

IMF approves $2.77bn emergency virus loan for Egypt

IMF approves $2.77bn emergency virus loan for Egypt
  • The country had seen a remarkable turnaround prior to the COVID-19 shock, under a fund-supported economic reform program
  • The country has gradually started to reopen after President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s government loosened a strict curfew

WASHINGTON: The IMF board approved $2.77 billion in emergency aid for Egypt on Monday, to help the country deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but said the government will need more financial help.
The country had seen a “remarkable turnaround” prior to the COVID-19 shock, under a fund-supported economic reform program, but that progress is now threatened, the IMF said in a statement.
The emergency funding will help finance “targeted and temporary spending, aimed at containing and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic,” First Deputy Managing Director Geoffrey Okamoto said.
However, he cautioned that Cairo will need “additional expeditious support from multilateral and bilateral creditors ... to close the remaining balance of payments gap, ease the adjustment burden, and preserve Egypt’s hard-won macroeconomic stability.”
The emergency funds come from the Washington-based crisis lender’s Rapid Financing Instrument, which has been ramped up to get aid quickly to developing nations most vulnerable to the economic effects of shutdowns to contain the outbreak.
IMF Managing Director Kristina Georgieva said the fund has received over 100 requests for aid from its members, and that developing countries will need about $2.5 trillion to deal with the impacts of the pandemic. Last week the fund said it had approved 50 such loans.
Egypt has suffered over 500 COVID-19 fatalities with nearly 10,000 cases, according to John’s Hopkins University’s tally.
The country has gradually started to reopen after President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s government has loosened a strict curfew for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in an effort to kickstart North Africa’s largest economy.
Having shuttered shops and cafes in late March and forced millions of civil servants to stay home, it is slowly reversing some of these measures, bringing back many state workers and extending the trading hours of shops and malls.


Malaysia takes legal action against EU over palm biofuel curbs

Malaysia takes legal action against EU over palm biofuel curbs
Updated 17 January 2021

Malaysia takes legal action against EU over palm biofuel curbs

Malaysia takes legal action against EU over palm biofuel curbs
  • Palm oil constitutes 30 percent of the global oils and fats production

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is taking legal action at the global trade watchdog against the EU and member states France and Lithuania for restricting palm oil-based biofuels, the government said.

The world’s second largest palm oil producer, which has called a EU renewable-energy directive “discriminatory action,” is seeking consultations under the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Mechanism, the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry said in a statement.

Minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said the EU proceeded with implementing the directive without considering Malaysia’s commitment and views, even after Malaysia gave feedback and sent economic and technical missions to Europe.

The EU directive “will mean the use of palm oil as biofuel in the EU cannot be taken into account in the calculation of renewable energy targets and in turn create undue trade restrictions to the country’s palm oil industry,” he said in the statement.

The ministry filed the WTO request with cooperation from the Attorney General’s Chambers and the International Trade and Industry Ministry, taking action it had warned of in July against EU Renewable Energy Directive II.

Malaysia will act as a third party in a separate WTO case lodged by neighboring Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer, as a sign of solidarity and support, the ministry statement said.

Indonesia and Malaysia, together account for 85 percent of the global output of palm oil. Palm oil constitutes 30 percent of the global oils and fats production, and plays a significant role in fulfilling the demand in the global oils and fats market.

It is the world’s most produced and traded edible oil, and its versatility can be seen through its use in a wide range of food and nonfood products, which led to the remarkable palm oil consumption growth.

The US imported approximately $410 million of crude palm oil from Malaysia in 2020, CNN reported.